Euthanasia Bill to be read into Parliament today

September 18, 2002 - Greens (WA) MLC, Robin Chapple will today read his Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2002 into the WA Legislative Council, paving the way for what he hopes will be a very open and public debate about the merits of legalising voluntary euthanasia in this state.

The introduction of the bill will occur just hours after Mr Chapple addresses a midday rally on the steps of Parliament House, organised by the West Australian Voluntary Euthanasia Society (WAVES) to convey the message that a large number of people in Western Australia support the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia.

At the rally, Mr Chapple will receive a petition from WAVES, calling for the government to legislate to allow those who are hopelessly suffering the right to be helped to die and provide legal protection for persons participating in the fulfilment of such an action. Well-known euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke will also be addressing the rally.

In his address to the rally, Mr Chapple will thank WAVES members for their continued work on the issue of voluntary euthanasia and discuss the features of the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2002 which he says seeks to legislate a very restricted form of euthanasia.

“The legislation will establish an administrative structure to allow a mentally competent adult suffering a medically diagnosed illness to legally terminate his or her own life. Stringent safeguards are in place including an assurance that doctors who work in accordance with the legislation are afforded legal security for their actions,' he said.

“An application for voluntary euthanasia must be approved by two medical professionals and witnessed by two adult witnesses, one of who cannot be a friend or close relation of the applicant. It is the choice of the medical practitioner whether they accept the request – involvement in voluntary euthanasia is absolutely at the discretion of the practitioner,' he added.

Following the bill's first reading, Mr Chapple will move to refer it to the Uniform Legislation and General Purposes Committee for scrutiny and further public consultation, and he is hopeful that the Legislative Council will support the referral to committee.

“I will be moving that the bill go to committee on the rationale that it is in the best interests of the community and the parliament for it to be dealt with by committee at this stage. It will give the community at the broadest level the opportunity to make comment on the issue of voluntary euthanasia generally and more specifically on the content of this Bill,' he said.

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